Hundreds of Farmers Block Roads in Protest of Monsanto’s GMO Crops

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FA NOTE: Not only do most nations lack rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment, but most of the world’s peo­ple also lack the right to own land, or even their homes.

Poland’s largest farmer upris­inggmo_poland_protest_tractors_735_350Poland’s largest farmer upris­ing ever has occurred as con­voys of trac­tors took to the roads recent­ly in protest of GMO infil­tra­tion and land grabs by biotech and Big Ag cor­po­ra­tions.

More than 150 farm­ers blocked road­ways and held numer­ous demon­stra­tions in order to bring atten­tion to the impor­tant issue of food sov­er­eign­ty in Poland. Their focus is a ban on GMOs and a restora­tion of small farmer’s rights after decades of oppres­sive health and safe­ty reg­u­la­tions which take rights away from small farms and give them to mono-crop­ping, poi­son­ing Big Ag mega-com­pa­nies.

The farm­ers have been stal­wart – refus­ing to call off their demon­stra­tions until their demands are met. Ral­lies and demon­stra­tions have lit­tered the coun­try – in over 50 loca­tions. Hun­dreds are pick­et­ing gov­ern­ment offices in addi­tion to the road block­ades.

In the largest orga­nized farmer’s protest the coun­try has like­ly ever seen, the farm­ers are demand­ing that leg­is­la­tors pro­tect the small farmer from exploita­tion by monop­o­liz­ing com­pa­nies and refuse the sell off of their country’s land to these behe­moths. As the farm­ers point out, once the land is sold, the Big Ag mod­el can’t be stopped, and the land is for­ev­er lost.

Read: Record GMO Farm­ers Switch­ing to NON-GMO Crops in 2015

Until gov­ern­ment offi­cials agree to talk with the farm­ing unions, they have vowed to keep up their efforts. Edward Kos­mal, chair­man of the farm­ers protest com­mit­tee for West-Pomeran­ian Region said:

We are ready for dia­logue. We look for­ward to meet­ing with you, Prime Min­is­ter, and begin­ning a com­pre­hen­sive gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment to solv­ing the prob­lems of Pol­ish agri­cul­ture. If you do not enter into a dia­logue with the Union, we will be forced to step up our protests.”

There are 4 simple key demands the farmers would like to be heard:

  • Reg­u­la­tion of land grabs by pri­mar­i­ly West­ern com­pa­nies (trans­la­tion – biotech and Big Ag) to pre­vent small farm­ers from los­ing their liveli­hoods.
  • The legal­iza­tion of direct sale of pro­duce and oth­er foods from farms to the peo­ple. This cuts out the mid­dle man and allows the high­er qual­i­ty pro­duce of many farms to reach its cus­tomers direct­ly. Poland cur­rent­ly has some of the most extreme poli­cies of all of Europe in this regard, mak­ing it near­ly impos­si­ble for small farm­ers to com­pete with big food com­pa­nies who are noto­ri­ous for sell­ing us fake and high­ly processed foods.
  • Change inher­i­tance laws so that fam­i­lies can right­ly leave land under lease to their heirs.
  • BAN THE CULTIVATION OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS!

One farmer stat­ed:

We demand the intro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion that will pro­tect Pol­ish land from exploita­tion by for­eign cap­i­tal! Agri­cul­tur­al land can­not be sold to com­mer­cial com­pa­nies. It’s part of Pol­ish ter­ri­to­ry. Once sold it will be lost.”

An Intense Escalation of Events

The farmer’s protests rep­re­sent a dra­mat­ic increase in activist fer­vor that has been boil­ing to the sur­face for over a year, with marked unrest in the north­ern provinces.

These provinces are espe­cial­ly upset about not being able to sell their (most­ly) organ­ic pro­duce, though uncer­ti­fied. It is usu­al­ly of high­er qual­i­ty than the food grown on mod­ern indus­tri­al farms. Poland is one of the last places in Europe where ‘peas­ant’ farm­ers still use tra­di­tion­al agri­cul­tur­al meth­ods, with­out the use of chem­i­cals and very low mech­a­niza­tion, so the soil is health­i­er, and so are the plants grown there. The large major­i­ty of small farms are no larg­er than 5 hectares.

Indus­tri­al-bent for­eign cor­po­ra­tions are keen to expand their oper­a­tions in Poland, and many small farm­ers see the increas­ing­ly ridicu­lous reg­u­la­tions as an attempt to force fam­i­lies off their land.

Fur­ther­more, one of Poland’s biggest indus­tri­al pro­duc­ers, in the form of Smith­field (the world’s biggest pig pro­duc­er which bought Poland’s Ani­mex SA in 1999) is influ­enc­ing the large­ly right-wing gov­ern­ment. They own a string of 16 hog farms where con­di­tions have been called “hor­ren­dous,” so you know they are not inter­est­ed in pro­tect­ing small farmer’sland rights or pro­duc­ing high-qual­i­ty, no-GMO, organ­ic food.

The tri­ad of gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate inter­ests in Poland along with EU pres­sure is caus­ing the protests to reach a more fevered pitch.

These protests are touch­ing the raw nerve of what’s wrong with the inhu­man, neo-lib­er­al and prof­it obsessed prac­tices of today. Prac­tices which ignore the real needs of farm­ers and con­sumers alike.”

Read: Brazil’s Farm­ers Rise up in Protest Against Big Ag’s Poli­cies

Pol­ish farm­ers are joined with mil­lions of oth­ers who have been protest­ing against Mon­san­to, Cargill, and oth­er biotech and Big Ag inter­ests who have lit­tle con­cern for the qual­i­ty of our food sup­ply. Over 50 coun­tries have marched against Mon­san­to, so the thou­sands march­ing in Poland are not alone. Almost all states in the US have marched against Mon­san­to and Big Ag, and Ver­mont recent­ly staged a protest at the US Cana­di­an bor­der which involved more than 79 Ver­mont towns.

 

Hillary Mar­tin, a farmer from Burling­ton, Ver­mont states the inter­na­tion­al­ly-shared aims against these bul­lies clear­ly:

We are here at the bor­der to demon­strate the glob­al sol­i­dar­i­ty of farm­ers in the face of cor­po­rate glob­al­iza­tion. The cor­po­rate takeover of agri­cul­ture has impov­er­ished farm­ers, starved com­mu­ni­ties, and force-fed us haz­ardous genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered crops, only to line the pock­ets of a hand­ful of multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions like Mon­san­to at the expense of farm­ers who are strug­gling for land and liveli­hood around the world!”

You can read more about land grabs by multi­na­tion­als at Pes­ti­cide Action Net­work, as well oth­er sites. The actions of these com­pa­nies keeps the world hun­gry and sick, not well fed. As the Glob­al Pol­i­cy Forum explains, unfair dis­tri­b­u­tion of land, and unfair access to own­er­ship explain much of the pover­ty and hunger in the world – NOT – as biotech would have us believe, the inabil­i­ty to grow enough food. Its all about dis­tri­b­u­tion.

It is the one- per­cent-ers, own­ing most of the multi­na­tion­al com­pa­nies, not rur­al farm­ers who com­man­deer the land. Even when small farm­ers do own land, they still suf­fer from inequal­i­ty due to gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions that favor these enor­mous com­pa­nies.

The strug­gle for land reform, which would shift the bal­ance of pow­er in favor of mar­gin­al­ized land­less farm­ers, has been going on for many decades. How­ev­er the food and finan­cial crises con­tribute to wors­en­ing the trend towards land con­cen­tra­tion, in which gov­ern­ments, agro-indus­tri­al cor­po­ra­tions and pri­vate investors buy up fer­tile land in poor coun­tries, [large­ly to spread GMOs] depriv­ing small farm­ers of their abil­i­ty to grow their own food.”